Street Light Floor Lamp

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Introduction: Street Light Floor Lamp

About: I'm Mike and I make crazy things at Instructables HQ in San Francisco. Follow me and try a few of my projects for yourself!

Bring the blinding brightness of street lighting to your work space by turning an old street light into your new floor lamp. This street lamp was found at a building reuse store. It looks like it was badly damaged, partially warped, and was missing the glass cover that protects the bulb. Since I was only using the light housing it was perfect.

This industrial lighting solution is unique as it gets, and sure to stop a few of your coworkers in their tracks. And, just like real outdoor public infrastructure, it provides a great canvas for tagging and stickers.

Step 1: Supplies

The center of this project is obviously the street light housing. I found mine at a salvage yard that collects all kinds of crazy stuff. You can check out the field trip we took here

  • 2" EMT 90° elbow
  • 2" EMT straight conduit
  • 2" EMT compression coupler
  • 2" EMT mounting collar
  • 20' power cord
  • 8" threaded lamp nipple
  • pull chain lamp socket
  • compact fluorescent light bulb
  • street lamp head

The street light was in pretty bad shape, so I had to clean it up with a sandblaster and some elbow grease to make it look decent.

Step 2: Lamp Base

I started with the base for my lamp and worked my way upwards. Since I wanted a floor lamp I knew the base had to be sturdy, so I decided to use two sheets of 3/4" plywood.

The two sheets were cut to 2' x 2'. This will allow the lamp to be free standing and provide enough support. Though my lamp stands on its own, I think a larger foot is needed, or a weight should be placed to secure the base. I have my lamp under the legs of my desk, which provides plenty of support.

Step 3: Lamp Base - Make Opening for Conduit

I started by positioning the mounting collar near the edge of one of the sheets and tracing the interior opening onto one sheet. The bolt openings were also traced onto the plywood.

The traced opening was cut with a hole saw and the bolt openings were drilled, I also used a countersink to bury the bolt heads. The bolts were fed through the bottom and into the collar, bolts were then used to secure the collar in place.

After, the second sheet of plywood was attached to the underside of the first piece and secured with screws. This beefy base was then sanded to remove any burrs and round off the corners.

Step 4: Upright - Cut Conduit to Length

The 2" EMT straight conduit I bought comes in 10' lengths. Since I wanted my light to be operable with a pull chain I decided to cut my lamp down to about 7'. I measured and marked on the pipe my dimensions, then took it to the cold saw to cut to length.

Step 5: Upright - Electrical Opening

I drilled a small opening close to the one end of the conduit for the electrical cord to be installed. An opening was drilled, then the drill was tilted at an angle to create a sloped pathway for the cord to run up into the conduit. The opening was deburred and the electrical cord was threaded into the opening until it came out the top.

The cord was pulled through the conduit and bunched up to keep things tidy. We'll come back to the electrical wiring after the street lamp has been modified.

Step 6: Lamp Head - Attach 90° Elbow

This street lamp attaches to 2" EMT conduit by a bracket that has two large bolts that hold it in place.

I removed the two bolts, along with the bracket, and gave them all a good cleaning with a wire brush to remove any debris. The 2" elbow EMT was then inserted into the back of the lamp head, the bracket was installed on top of the elbow and then the bolts were tightened to hold the elbow in place.

Step 7: Lamp Head - Light Bracket

The pull chain socket for this light will need structure to rest on in order to work effectively. I threaded the pull chain socket to the 8" lamp nipple and positioned the assembly where I wanted it to be located. Since this street lamp wasn't designed for such a small bulb I had to create my own bracket to mount the lamp nipple to.

Luckily there were threaded mounting holes on the inside of the lamp head which I could. Measuring the mounting holes, I cut a scrap piece of 3/4" wood to use as a bracket to fit these holes and drilled openings to match the threaded holes.

Step 8: Lamp Head - Nipple Mounting

The nipple can now be mounted to the scrap wood bracket. I found the center of the scrap piece of wood and drilled an opening the same diameter as the nipple. The nipple is threaded, so I was able to install it inside the bracket by attaching it into the chuck of a drill and screwing it in.

Step 9: Lamp Head - Light Install

The electrical wire can now be threaded through the hollow nipple and wired onto the light socket, then the socket can be assembled. THe entire assembly can then be mounted inside the lamp and the wood bracket screwed into the mounting holes.

Step 10: Lamp Cover - Vacuum Form Lamp Cover

My lamp didn't come with a lamp cover, so decided to make my own.

There's a few ways to make a dome-like lamp cover, but we have access to a vacuum former and I wanted an excuse to use it. I was looking around the shop for something that would have roughly the right shape, after a few moments I decided to go out and buy a watermelon to cut in half. The dome shape would be perfect, and I love watermelon.

The vacuum former works by heating a thin sheet of plastic, the object you want to form around is placed on a vacuum table underneath the object, then the plastic sheet is lowered into the object and the vacuum table is activated. The hot plastic is then stretched around the object, when the plastic cools it hardens into the shape of the object. You know the plastic is ready to be lowered onto your object (in this case a watermelon) when it begins to droop under the heating element - as seen in image 4 and 5 in this step.

The hot plastic is dropped onto the form and the vacuum engaged. When cool the plastic will have the exact shape of the form.

Step 11: Lamp Cover - Cut Vacuum Formed Lamp Cover

After vacuum forming the watermelon was removed and sliced up to be eaten. The vacuum form shape was then cut to fit the opening of the street light with scissors.

Step 12: Lamp Cover - Diffuse Lamp Cover

To give my street light a more even glow I decided to diffuse the clear plastic. Since I have access to a sandblaster, this is what I used. You could easily achieve the same results with sandpaper.

Step 13: Lamp Cover - Drill Opening for Pull Chain

The lamp cover lastly needs an opening to pull the chain. Noting where the chain fell a small opening was drilled into the lamp cover. The cover can then be installed, the chain pulled through the cover, and the lower half of the lamp installed into the upper hosing.

Step 14: Assemble Lamp

With all the components finished we can attach the lamp head and elbow to the upright. Since EMT is galvanized I couldn't weld the two sections together, luckily they sell 2" EMT compression couplers. The coupler was attached and tightened onto the elbow and the upright, securing the two sections together. The cantilever isn't too far, and the light assembly isn't too heavy, so the coupler holds the head securely.

Step 15: Hit the Lights

Lastly, I finished the aluminum with machine oil to give it a dark matte finish. I maneuvered the floor lamp under my desk to keep it secure and the pull chain directly overhead.

Now glorious street light lumens can bathe my desk at the pull of a switch.

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    52 Discussions

    I work for the power company and we are currently replacing all 200,000 street light heads with LED versions. I grabbed 4 of these yesterday that were almost brand new and took the inside pieces out to reduce weight and this lamp is what I'm doing with them. Great job on the instructions.

    2 replies

    Does anyone know where I could source a (affordable!) street light head? Really love this idea.
    Thanks!

    I would contact your city's street lighting dept.

    Does anybody know where I could source a (affordable!) street light head in this style? Really want to make this!
    Thanks!

    I see a lot of people like using watermelons for vacuum formers ;)

    Also, how did you make the GIF ant step #15? Video to GIF? 2 Pictures to GIF? How did you make it?

    2 replies

    Thanks for checking this out!

    The GIF is just 2 frames made into a GIF in Photoshop.

    Just discovered this one: genius! This scrap yard is awesome.Wish I had one like that near my place

    Did you leave the glass lens off to lighten it? The reason I ask is I just got 3 vintage street lamp heads at an auction and want to make this. Will it topple over if I use original glass or do I just make the base bigger?

    1 reply

    The street light I found didn't have a glass lens, so I made my own. If yous has one I'd suggest beefing up the base to support the additional weight.

    I'd love to see your results when you're done. Share a picture in the comments here. Good luck!

    I would need an intact street lamp due to not having access to a vacuum table(?)

    And I haven't seen many street lamps laying around lately This project might be worthwhile if I had a big garage to put it in, certainly wouldn't fit in my living room. The overall idea is good, just needs scaled down a bit for space restrictions..

    1 reply

    i like how rough yet very precise your work and your style is.. i also love the addition of fruit "snack" break !

    2 replies